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Barry McGovern finally brings one-man Beckett show, 'I'll Go On,' to LA

Things are looking up for actor Barry McGovern, who brings
Things are looking up for actor Barry McGovern, who brings "I'll Go On," his one-man show from material from three Samuel Beckett novels, to Culver City's Kirk Douglas Theatre.
John Rabe

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For 30 years, actor Barry McGovern has been performing "I'll Go On," a distillation of three Samuel Beckett novels, as a one-man show around the world. He's now brought it to L.A. for the first time, to the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City through February 9th.

(Barry McGovern in "I'll Go On." Credit: Craig Schwartz)

"I'll Go On" is based on "Molloy," "Malone Dies," and "The Unnamable," which Beckett wrote after World War II, in which he was a hero of the French resistance. Beckett said he, "preferred France in war to Ireland in peace."

McGovern says, "He described his experience in a few words: Boy Scout stuff. He didn't want to get involved, but he couldn't stand idly by. A lot of Jewish friends of his were killed."

"The war plays a huge part in Beckett's life. It changed him as a man. He was a man who had read most of the canon of Western Literature, a man who was so brilliant and erudite, and a man we can see from (his letters), we can see that he was not a very pleasant young man in his youth. He was very arrogant, but he changed completely and became a man of great humility."

What is "I'll Go On" about?

"It's about the search for identity and the search for self. What is (laughing), the old great phrase, The Meaning of Life? Why are we here, what is it to be in this universe? What is it to go on? And the last words of the final book, as the voice pants looking for identity: 'You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.' So, no matter what happens, you must go on.

Yes, McGovern admits, "It sounds very abstruse," and Beckett is difficult. But McGovern also promises much "wicked, black humor."